Long snapper Cullen Loeffler and punter Chris Kluwe may disagree – at least publicly – to a certain degree about the extent of the hit Loeffler took while covering a punt Sunday in Atlanta, but they agree that it was unnecessary.
Loeffler was running down the field in the second quarter of Sunday's loss to the Atlanta Falcons to cover a punt fielded by returner Eric Weems. Loeffler was trailing Weems by about 10 yards when he was blindsided by the Falcons' Kerry Meier.
On Monday, Kluwe responded to the incident via Twitter.
"To the Falcon that cheapshotted Loeffler - I hope someone does the same (thing) to you and knocks you out for the rest of the year too," Kluwe tweeted, adding some name-calling at the end.
"Just watched the film and Cullen was ten yards behind the play; there was no call to do something like that."
Asked about the hit while standing in front of his locker Monday with a fractured sanctum (a bone in the lower back), Loeffler wasn't ready to classify the hit as "dirty" but did say he wasn't a factor in the play anymore because Weems was past him.
"At the time, I didn't think that it was (a cheapshot)," Loeffler said. "Any time a punt return is setting up like that, you never know. It seemed to have been a legal hit. Now was it that close to the returner? I don't think that it was, but it's part of the game and that's what happens in returns like that, unfortunately. You're vulnerable. Everyone is."
Later, Loeffler said he didn't want to make a big deal out of the hit, but Kluwe's reaction is helping to keep it public.
"Unnecessary. By the rules it's a clean hit, but when the guy is trailing the play by 13 yards, it's totally uncalled for," Kluwe tweeted in response to others on Twitter. "… Way to be 'that guy' Kerry Meier. Notice how far Loeffler is from the returner?"
Kluwe included a link to the YouTube video of the play displayed below.
Loeffler is expected to end up on season-ending injured reserve after playing in the previous 129 games and handled snaps for kicks and punts since becoming a Viking in 2004.
"I've been really fortunate throughout my career to go seven years without even stepping foot in the training room. Kind of like that old saying, ‘When it rains it pours,' and it just seems like I've been on the losing end of things lately," Loeffler said.
He said he wasn't sure if the injury happened when he was hit or when he hit the ground as a result of the block.
"I would guess that it's the way that I landed on the turf. Obviously the way that I got hit is the reason that I landed that way," he said. "I'm not really sure. I would assume it was just from the way that I landed and the awkward position and the brute force."
Kluwe has maintained for years that quarterbacks and other high-profile players receive favored status when it comes to the criticism and fines waged against them.
"Imagine if a hit like that happened to (Patriots QB Tom) Brady or (Packers QB Aaron Rodgers). They'd be talking about banning the guy for life," Kluwe tweeted. "On a snapper? Zilch."
"The wailing from the league office and tv media would be deafening. ‘We have to make the game safer!' Gutless hypocrites."
Legal block or simple cheapshot?
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